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Carlo Collodi (1826-1890) - pseudonym for Carlo Lorenzini


Italian author and journalist, best-known as the creator of Pinocchio, the wooden boy puppet who came to life. His nose grew larger when he told a lie and returned to normal size when he told the truth. The story has inspired many film makers, among them Walt Disney, whose animation from 1943 is well known. The Italian philosopher Benedetto Croce remarked that "the wood out of which Pinocchio is carved is humanity itself".

"Lies, my boy, are known in a moment. There are two kinds of lies, lies with short legs and lies with long noses. Yours, just now, happen to have long noses." (from Adventures of Pinocchio, 1883)

Carlo Collodi was born Carlo Lorenzini in Florence, the son of Domenico Lorenzini, a cook, and Angela Orzali, a servant. Collodi was the first of ten children. His childhood the young Carlo spent in the hillside village of Collodi. After attending primary school in Collodi, he was sent to study for the priesthood at the seminary of Val d'Elsa. However, after graduation he started to work for a bookseller. When the movement for Italian national unification spread, Collodi plunged into politics. At the age of 22, he became a journalist to work for Italian independence struggle. In 1848 he founded the satirical journal Il Lampione, which was suppressed in 1849. His next periodical, La Scaramuccia, was more fortunate, and in 1860 he revived Il Lampione again. Collodi also wrote comedies and edited newspapers and reviews. He took the pseudonym 'Collodi' from the name of the town, where his mother was born.

In 1861, when Italy became a united nation, Collodi gave up journalism. After 1870 he settled down as a theatrical censor and magazine editor. He turned soon to children's fantasy, translating Italian versions of the fairy tales of the French writer Charles Perrault's. It was Perrault who reintroduced such half-forgotten tales as 'Little Red Riding Hood', 'Sleeping Beauty', and 'Puss in Boots'. Collodi also began to write his own children's stories, including a series about a character named Giannettino. However, Collodi felt that writing for children was not his true calling; he referred to The Story of a Puppet, later retitled The Adventures of Pinocchio, as "childish twaddle".

The first chapter of Pinocchio appeared in the Giornale dei bambini, a new children's weekly, in 1881. It became an immediate success, but first the church fathers were afraid that Pinocchio would encourage rebellion. The story depicted a wooden puppet carved by an old man called Geppetto. Pinocchio, alive in the beginning of the book, has to learn how to be generous through hard lessons. His feet are burned off, he is chained, and he is even hanged. "...I am a heedless Marionette--heedless and heartless," Pinocchio says. "Oh! If I had only had a bit of heart..." Eventually Pinocchio ceases to be a Marionette and becomes a boy. The lesson is that "Boys who love and take good care of their parents when they are old and sick, deserve praise even though they may not be held up as models of obedience and good behavior." Original illustration was made by Eugenio Mazzanti (1883). The story was translated into English in 1892 by M.A. Murray. – Collodi died in Florence on October 26, 1890. He never married.

The first sketch illustration of Pinocchio was made in 1883 by Enrico Mazzanti. Giulio Antamoro made a silent film version in 1911. Luigi Comencini's film version from 1972, starring Gina Lollobrigina, was more faithful to the somber original story than Walt Disney's animated movie, produced in 1940. Roberto Benigni's Pinocchio (2002) was cut for the American audience. In Disney's Pinocchio Gepetto is a toymaker, not a poor woodcarver, as in the original story. One day he completes a marionette, Pinocchio. His prayer that the puppet might become a real boy is heard and Blue Fairy gives the marionette life. He is told that he can become a real boy only after he has discovered bravery, truth and unselfishness. Jiminy Cricket is Pinocchio's Conscience. After tricks by J. Worthington Foulfellow and Gideon, Pinocchio is imprisoned by evil puppeteer Stromboli. Pinocchio lies about his circumstances and his nose grows long. On his way to home, Pinocchio is taken by Foulfellow to Coachman's Pleasure Island, where boys are transformed into donkeys for sale. Jiminy saves Pinocchio, but not before the marionette has become part-donkey. Reaching home they discover their friends have been swallowed by the whale Monstro. The two rescue them, but Pinocchio is apparently dead. With the Blue Fairy's radiance Pinocchio comes alive and a real boy.

Pinocchio includes a complex web of moral questions. Critics have noted its antiauthoritarian tone, the contrast between wealth and poverty, and distaste for the hypocrisy of the judicial system. When a moralizing cricket – his external conscience – gets in his face, it gets squashed. Collodi's Pinocchio is more selfish and aggressive than Disney's toy boy. Eventually Pinocchio grows from an egoistic child, guided by the pleasure principle, into an adult who understands the feelings of other people. The psychological studies of the story include Freudian analysis of the puppet's nose - of course – and a Jungian approach to 'shadow' figures such as Lampwick.

For further reading: Pinocchio Goes Postmodern: Perils of a Puppet in the United States by Richard Wunderlich, Thomas J. Morrissey (2002); When Toys Come Alive by Lois Rostow Kuznets (1994); The Pinoccio Catalogue by Richard Wunderlich (1989); Pinocchio - From Picaro to Pipsqueak by Douglas Street in Children's Novels and the Movies (1983) - Sequels: Pinocchio's Nose by Jerome Charyn (1983); Pinocchio in Venice by Robert Coover (1991)

Selected works:

  • Gli amici di casa, 1856
  • Un romanzo in vapore. Da Firenze a Livorno. Guida storico-umoristica, 1856
  • I misteri di Firenze, 1857
  • Giannettino, 1877
  • Minuzzolo, 1878
  • Le avventure di Pinocchio, 1883
    - The Story of a Puppet, or The Adventures of Pinoccio (translated by M.A. Murray, 1892) / The Adventures of Pinocchio (translated by Geoffrey Brock, 2008)
    - Pinocchion seikkailut: kertomus marionetista (suom. Maija Halonen, 1906) / Pitkänenän seikkailut: kertomus puunukesta (suom. Elli Sihvo, 1927) / Pinokkio (suom. Annikki Suni, 1989)
    - Walt Disney's animated film Pinocchio (1940), dir. Hamilton Luske, Ben Sharpsteen. Based on The Adventures of Pinocchio. Voice actors: Mel Blanc (Gideon), Walter Catlett (J. Worthington Foulfellow), Franki Darrow (Lampwick), Cliff Edwards (Jiminy Cricket), Dickie Jones (Pinocchio), Charles Judels (Coachman, Stromboli), Christian Rub (Geppetto), Evelyn Venable (Blue Fairy). 88 mins. - Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night (1987), dir. by Hal Sutherland. - The Legend of Pinocchio / Die legende von Pinocchio (1996), dir. by Steve Barron, featuring Martin Landau and Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Barron's film departs from the visual style of the Disney adaptation and adds several characters and romantic interest for Gepetto. - Pinocchio (2002), dir. by Roberto Benigni.
  • Tutto Collodi, per i piccoli e per i grandi, 1948
  • Lo scimmiottino color di rosa e altri racconti, 1969
  • Pipì, o, Lo scimmiottino color di rosa: e altri racconti dal "Giornale per i bambini", 1983 (edited by Fernando Tempesti)
  • Un romanzo in vapore: da Firenze a Livorno: guida storico-umoristica, 1987 (edited by Daniela Marcheschi)
  • I misteri di Firenze, 1988 (edited by Fernando Tempesti)
  • I ragazzi grandi, 1989 (edited by Daniela Marcheschi)
  • Gli amici di casa, 1990 (edited by Daniela Marcheschi)
  • Opere, 1995 (edited by Daniela Marcheschi)
  • Minuzzolo, 2000 (edited by Gianna Marrone)
  • Macchiette, 1010 (foreword by Ernesto Ferrero)
  • Il grillo parlante dell’unità d’Italia: Collodi giornalista, 2011 (edited by Simonetta Bartolini)

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